Update: Queer Defense in Brazil

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cw: skip first paragraph for mentions of graphic anti-LGBTQIA violence

It has been a brutal week for LGBTQIA communities in Brazil. A queer Brazilian friend is heartbroken over the murders and suicides of 3 people close to him in just the last 4 days. The stories of these deaths are grisly: one was a gay male professor who was followed home from a bar and killed, another transmasculine friend and his partner committed suicide following prolonged financial struggles. Especially appalling is the murder of a travesti (a Latin-American identity in the transfeminine spectrum) who was accused of being a demon and had her heart removed by an evangelical man. This sequence of events demonstrates the increased hostility towards LGBTQIA people in Brazil following the election of right-wing president Jair Bolsanaro in January, 2019.

This increase in hostility was easily predicted by those most likely to be affected by it. As an activist stated in the Guardian’s documentary Marielle and Monica, “By the time Bolsanaro rises to power, even if we still don’t know how his government will be, there’s already a legacy of violence and hate [by him]. Dissemination of hate between people.” Bolsanaro legitimizes violence against LGBTQIA people by being “explicity homophobic, biphobic and transphobic,” according to Salomão Cunha Lima, from GAMES, an LGBTQ employment organization in São Paulo. Bolsanaro’s words, Lima stresses, “have empowered fascist, homophobic and racist people, who started feeling free to commit hate crimes against this population.” Such increase in hate crimes has been seen in the United States, where, in the year following the election of right-wing president Donald Trump– and the visibility of white supremacist groups his election endorsed– reported hate crimes increased by 17%.

Bolsanaro has then followed up on his promises. In the first 48 hours of his presidency, he enacted executive orders to the Minister of Human Rights to ignore all complaints and violations involving lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, and queer Brazilians. The Minister of Human Rights herself is an evangelical pastor quoted saying, “Girls will be princesses and boys will be princes. There will be no more ideological indoctrination of children and teenagers in Brazil.” In addition, a guide to STIs for transmasculine people was taken off a government website. This initial flurry of homophobic and transphobic policies were accompanied by threats to indigenous lands and undercutting funding for public art, youth fitness programs, and programs that address hunger.

Recall that this increase in violence against LGBTQIA people is happening in what is already the country with the highest rate of travesti/trans* murders in the world, even before Bolsanaro was elected. Also, those numbers have already been increasing: in 2017, a record 387 murders of people who identified as LGBTQ+ were recorded; there were 346 as of October 2018, with 167 of them trans, according to Grupo Gay de Bahia.

The Center for a Stateless Society, acting in response to this alarming uptick in violence against LGBTQIA people in the wake of right-wing fascism, has decided to double its commitment to match donations made to our fundraiser for “Extravasa: Defesa Pessoal,” a self-defense project serving LGBTT people in Florianópolis, Brazil.

C4SS will donate an additional $250 match to donations in this round of fundraising for a total of $500 made to the GoFundMe.

Acknowledging that Self Defense is Self Care, C4SS moves to empower those struggling to survive under fascism all over the world, and encourages you to do the same. Please donate if you can, and share among your networks.

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